Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Change is absolutely necessary. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist by upbringing, so I know a thing or two about resisting change. I come from a heritage of church traditions perfectly poised to reach America if our culture ever reverts back to the 1950s.
I’m changing my blog title and emphasis on Patheos to New Wineskins for one simple reason: to advocate, defend and proclaim the necessity of the church to adapt and modernize to reach an ever-changing world. Hear me from the outset: I am not advocating a loosening or compromising of our adherence to Scripture. Many opponents to change incorrectly try to use that as a ‘slippery slope’ argument for resisting all change. I’m not advocating a change in theology. I want to passionately and convincingly argue for a change in methodology.
Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. When it comes to our success in the mission of the church (Matthew 28:19-20), change is absolutely necessary. Jesus himself experienced this, modeled this, and taught this from the outset of his ministry. If you read the gospel of Mark, you’ll quickly find that Mark places emphasis on action over words. Mark devotes the largest portion of his gospel to actions and miracles and the least amount to Jesus’ actual teaching. The first time Jesus teaches in Mark is at the end of chapter 2, after three events that would have driven the traditional religious leaders crazy.
First, Jesus not only healed a paralyzed man but declared his sins forgiven, something blasphemous to the ears of the religious leaders. Then he has the gall to associate with tax collectors and sinners, a scandal in the making. Finally the religious leaders call him out on refusing to fast in the manner and tradition established by the religious elite. He’s advocating massive change . His theology is sound. In fact, look at the Sermon on the Mount and you’ll see that he’s even more conservative then most of his contemporaries. It’s his methodology that’s revolutionary. He’s the perfect embodiment of change in a rotten and decaying religious system.
So when Mark finally records a teaching of Jesus (one of the few teachings recorded in Mark comparatively), it’s in defense of his rejection of the religious customs and methodology of the day. 21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:21-22, NIV)
In that same spirit, I desire for this blog to instigate, create a conversation, and hopefully inspire change for the millions of believers out there who are clinging to traditional methodology for tradition’s sake. You can change and maintain your theological purity. You can modernize without losing your soul. I’ve experienced it. I’m living it. I’m leading it with the church I’m blessed to pastor. Looking forward to the conversations ahead.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. ~ C.S. Lewis